Preview - Game 5: Canucks @ Sharks

Thomas Drance
January 27 2013 03:42PM

A classic.
Photo via Matthew Bleadsdale

It took a hurculean effort from Cory Schneider, Aaron Volpatti and the club's special teams unit, but Vancouver recorded their first regulation victory of the season on Friday night in Anaheim. Defensively the Canucks are a work in progress and it's clear that the club misses the play-driving ability of David Booth and Ryan Kesler, but at least a clear game plan has emerged over the course of the team's first four games. 

The Canucks are doing well to control the territorial play and generate shots on net from the blue-line while playing a physical brand of hokkey that has frustrated opponents, and led to copious power-play opportunities for the club's polished first unit and the red-hot Mason Raymond (what?). Unfortunately, Vancouver has struggled to limit quality chances against at even-strength and their usual "ace" shutdown pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa has looked, well, extremely ordinary.

Read on past the jump for a more elaborate preview.

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Best of the Nation – 1.27.13

Jonathan Willis
January 27 2013 08:25AM

The first week of the NHL season is now behind us; the Best of the Nation this week includes more Luongo trade talk, Nail Yakupov's goal celebration, actual trades, and much more.

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Party Fowl - Canucks Blowout the Ducks: Recap and Scoring Chance Data

Thomas Drance
January 26 2013 12:40AM

Aaron Volpatti mugs for the camera after icing the game with a second period goal.
Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

After being lit up in the first game of the season by the Anaheim Ducks, Cory Schneider - Vancouver's starting goaltender - was out for a little bit of redemption in Friday night's game. He got it, and then some, as he recorded a clean sheet to spoil Anaheim's home-opener.

Shoutouts are something of an over-rated statistic generally speaking. Sometimes goaltenders will make eleven of so saves, five of them difficult and will record one in a game their team completely dominated. That wasn't the case this evening and Cory Schneider's efforts kept Vancouver in the game early, and were critical in a blowout win in which Vancouver's defense didn't look particularly good, frankly.

While the Ducks were clearly the superior squad five-on-five, they were undisciplined, and Vancouver's power-play repeatedly made them pay for their mental errors and occasional thuggish shenanigans. The combination of dominant special teams and air-tight goaltending allowed Vancouver to blowout their opponents in a game that really had no business being so lopsided.

Read on past the jump for a recap and analysis.

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Evening Headshots: January 25th

Thomas Drance
January 25 2013 07:01PM

The latest Straight Jab is pretty excellent.
Photo Credit: Ken Henderson.

Here's an excellent OCD breakdown of Jordan Schroeder's NHL debut on Wednesday against Calgary, which Daniel Wagner broke down on a shift by shift basis. [Pass it to Bulis]

Rob the Hockey Guy thinks Alain Vigneault needs to re-think his shootout strategy. Rob in particular suggests that Vigneault give Zack Kassian a shot in a higher leverage shooting position, and that the team see what Jordan Schroeder and Maxim Lapierre can really do in the skills competition. For the most part he's dead on, though I think the team should still stick with Alex Edler as one of the club's top-three shooters. [Rob the Hockey Guy]

Manny Malhotra will be out of the lineup for the Canucks for Friday night's game against the Anaheim Ducks because his wife (and Steve Nash's sister) Jo Jo Malhotra has recently given birth to a boy child. If my priorities were warped, I'd point out that with Maxim Lapierre hobbled and Malhotra out of the lineup the Canucks will likely struggle in the faceoff dot in the game against the Ducks, but in the big picture who really cares? Congratulations to the Malhotras! [@VanCanucks] has re-designed their official team site and the result is gooery (for the uninitiated, that's a compliment similar to saying the new site looks "fresh"). I've also noticed that the team has started a daily link post series called "Cherry Picking." In these links posts on the official team site they appear to be regularly promoting foul-mouthed, unaccredited, independent blog properties like ours and I'd just like to take a minute to give the team due kudos for being forward thinking with this feature. Their willingness to promote our content is very much appreciated. []

On Thursday, Mike Gillis appeared on the Team1040 and revealed that Zack Kassian has incorporated mixed-martial arts techniques into his regular training regiment. According to Gillis the organization is pleased with the outcomes so far, but would prefer that Zack Kassian fight players who are more legitimately useful than the likes of Ben Eager. I find this fascinating. Was it MMA training that taught Zack Kassian to throw punches behind his head? [Legion of Blog]

Read on past the jump for more Canucks news, some Luongo speculation, and other links.

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Preview: Game 4 Canucks @ Ducks

Thomas Drance
January 25 2013 03:32PM

All of the seats at the Honda Centre have a Teemu Selanne shirt placed on them. JEALOUS!
Photo Credit: Eric Stephens.

Less than a week after the team's gong-show season opener against the Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks and their anointed starter Cory Schneider will get a second kick at the can on Friday night in Orange County. The Ducks have won both of their games so far this season and have been a dynamic offensive force in those two contests. Over a miniscule sample of games the Ducks are averaging six goals per game, and are capitalizing on 60% of power-play opportunities...

Obviously they won't sustain either number for more than a couple of games, and in fact, if the Canucks hope to beat the Ducks they'll probably need to hold them to fewer than two goals. Vancouver will be without Manny Malhotra due to the birth of his son (I assume his son's life started in the defensive zone), and Maxim Lapierre is battling through a groin injury (though he'll be in the lineup this evening). That leaves an already short-handed Canucks team even shallower in the middle, something Anaheim could well manage to exploit in Friday night's game.

Read on past the jump for more.

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